Top stories of the week (25 – 29 June)

Monday

“I have today become the president of all Egyptians” – Mohamed Morsi’s speech (The Guardian)

My people of great Egypt, who today celebrate democracy in our country; those of you standing in the public squares, in Tahrir Square, and all the public squares of Egypt; my dear people, big family, brothers and sons, you who are awaiting the future, who want security and safety, goodness and revival, and development and stability for our country, I turn to you praising God for having brought about this historic moment.

This is a shining course written by the hands of Egyptians, by their will, their blood, their tears and their sacrifices. I would never have been able to stand before you today as the first elected president by the will of free Egyptians in the first presidential elections after the revolution of 25 January, nor I would have been able to stand before you now with this overwhelming happiness that extends to the four corners of our beloved country without the support of God almighty and the sacrifices and precious blood of our noble martyrs and the noble, wounded citizens. …


Tuesday

More than 100 missing after Uganda landslide: govt (Reuters)

More than 100 people were missing and about 30 confirmed killed in eastern Uganda on Tuesday after a landslide the previous day buried villages in a coffee-growing area on the slopes of Mount Elgon, the government said.

On Monday, the Uganda Red Cross said at least 18 people had been killed in the disaster , but on Tuesday government officials said the number of fatalities was higher and that 109 people were still missing.

Heavy rain triggered a mudslide on Monday afternoon that cut through trees and bushes, burying two villages in mud, officials said, adding that 178 people had survived.

The search and rescue operation was called off on Tuesday after officials said the chances of finding any more survivors were slim.

“It is feared the landslide and floods buried about 29 homes with about 30 people dead,” Stephen Mallinga, the minister of disaster preparedness and refugees, told a news conference.

He said the timing of the landslide – in the early afternoon – had prevented a much higher death toll.

Wednesday

A guard supervises the burning of more than ten thousand pounds of ivory in Libreville, Gabon. Photograph James Morgan, WWF

Gabon to burn ivory stocks as elephant poaching surges (Reuters)

The central African nation of Gabon will burn its government stockpiles of ivory on Wednesday against the backdrop of a surge in the killing of elephants and rhinos across the continent to meet surging Asian demand.

Conservation group WWF and TRAFFIC, which monitors the global wildlife trade, said in a statement the tusks and carvings would be set alight by Gabon’s President Ali Bongo after they had been subjected to an independent audit to ensure none had been pilfered for illegal sale.

Gabon will be the first country in its neighbourhood to publicly destroy its ivory, following a path blazed over two decades ago by the east African nation of Kenya. (…)

“If not managed properly, ivory stockpiles in the hands of government suddenly ‘get legs’ and move into illegal trade. Gabon’s actions effectively keep the ivory out of the way of temptation,” said Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC’s ivory trade expert.

The audited ivory Gabon will put to the torch weighs in at 4,825 kgs (10,600 pounds), including tusks and almost 18,000 worked or carved items.

Thursday

Islamists declare full control of Mali’s north (Reuters)

Al Qaeda-linked Islamists declared on Thursday they had secured full control of Mali’s desert north, a day after pushing their former Tuareg separatist allies out of the town of Gao in a gun battle that killed at least 20 people.

The appropriation by Islamists of a separatist uprising by Tuareg MNLA rebels regarded in the West as having some legitimate political grievances will heighten fears Mali will become a haven for jihadists.

The local Ansar Dine group and allies such as the al Qaeda splinter group MUJWA had already gained the upper hand in the northern town of Kidal and the ancient trading post of Timbuktu after government forces were routed in an April rebel advance.

“Our men control all three of the towns in northern Mali,” Oumar Ould Hamaha, a Timbuktu-based Ansar Dine official said of the mostly desert territory which is larger than France.

“They (the MNLA) all ran away, we decided not to pursue them. … All I can tell you is that they are not even in the outskirts the city,” Hamaha said of the battle in Gao.

The separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad – the northern territory it claims as an independent state – said its forces beat a tactical retreat in Gao on Wednesday and rejected suggestions they had lost the battle.

Friday


Gunmen kidnap foreign aid workers from Kenyan camp
(Reuters)

Gunmen kidnapped four foreign refugee workers and a driver at Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp near the border with Somalia on Friday, police said, in the latest attack since Kenya sent troops into Somalia to try to crush Islamist militants.

Kenyan police said the staff were working for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and that they suspected the gunmen to be sympathisers of Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents.

“So far we have not confirmed the nationalities of the four foreign workers who were kidnapped,” Philip Ndolo, the region’s deputy police chief, told Reuters.

“We suspect this could be the work of al Shabaab sympathisers.”

It was the first kidnapping of foreigners since Kenya sent troops into Somalia in October to fight the militants.

Video of the week


Sudanese police fired tear gas and warning shots to disperse students from the Sudan Banking Academy in Khartoum. Protests against government austerity measures have been going on for the past two weeks. Live updates – despite the Internet blackout – can be followed on #SudanRevolts

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